The Borg are a perfect analogy for neo-liberalism…

The Borg, from Star Trek, are a race which can be considered the “ultimate consumers”: their purpose is to assimilate (to consume) other races into their collective, to dissolve their identity into a bland, monolithic technological whole.

This is analogous to how neo-liberalism functions around the world. Neo-liberalism, as an outgrowth of capitalism, seek only one absolute measure, profit, much like the Borg, who pursue assimilation as their absolute goal. The Borg seek to consume civilizations; neo-liberals seek to take control of civilizations in order to use them as instruments of production in order to consume. Both pursue growth for growth’s sake. Neither ideology is built on human scale, but rather is built to put profits/assimilation over people, leading to, for the Borg, geometric ships and rather vampiric methods of assimilation (the vampire being itself a figure of extreme consumption, nourishing itself from the blood of a person thereby killing them), and for the neo-liberals, policies designed to impoverish and kill people in the name of “stability”- the stability of Western corporate investments.

When the Borg attack those who refuse to be assimilated, they take over their opponent’s communication devices and use them to issue a chilling message:

“We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.”

“We are the Borg.”

The Borg are a collective. They, in theory, act as a whole (Borg Queen notwithstanding), and the individual is a tool of the whole. As in corporations and neo-liberalism, the individual is stripped of all values and of all moral responsibility. The Borg communicate as a chorus of voices, where each individual voice is lost in the whole. Capitalism has done this one better by reifying the corporation itself as its own voice, which is distinct and transcends the voices of individuals.

“Lower your shields and surrender your ships.”

The Borg offer any species it desires to assimilate only two choices: surrender or die. Likewise, neo-liberalism admits of only two options: adapt your economic system to our needs or be conquered. The United States is a good example of this strategy. Starting from the massacres of the American Indians and the American Civil War to the Cold War and the recent wars in the Middle East, as well as the smaller acts of barbary and murder commited by multinationals, it has always been clear what happens to those who oppose American interests. And those who submit to the neo-liberal agenda, under the form of “loans” and “restructuration,” such as Mexico, Brazil, Colombia or Haiti, pay a heavy price, in the same way that colonialism ravaged local economies to provide new markets for the industries of the great powers.

“We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us.”

Western capitalism notoriously runs roughshod over alien cultures, co-opting and then steamrolling over them. Distinctiveness is only useful if it can lead to better products, otherwise it is deemed irrelevant. The targeted economies must adapt to serve the West’s production needs. Culture, which is dependent on economy, must therefore also adapt to service the West’s production needs. Because the culture is changed so drastically, people who resist against the change become aliens in their own countries, are fought by their own governments, and are pariahs to the new local values of production and consumption for their own sake.

“Resistance is futile.”

This, on the other hand, may be the main difference between the Borg and neo-liberalism. While it seems near-impossible to resist the Borg, neo-liberalism has been fought successfully in the past and continues to be fought. The Zapatistas and other indigenous Mayan groups are one example of this. Communist dictatorships, like Cuba and North Korea, while they are clear evils, are another. The Anarchist movement in Western countries is yet another, although it has not been wholly successful. Neo-liberalism may be backed by tons of weapons and missiles, but there are always humans on the serving end, which gives us hope that man can one day be redeemed and the world can be made a better place without shedding blood.

One thought on “The Borg are a perfect analogy for neo-liberalism…

  1. […] To give but one more example from my childhood: the Borg from Star Trek. As the bloggers at Prime Directive observe, “The Borg are a perfect analogy for neo-liberalism.” Indeed, that is how they are […]

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: